Three quick tips: WordPress made easier

A better way
Time-saving devices for the WordPress kitchen

NOTE: This blog entry refers to WordPress 3.5.1 and Jetpack 2.2.2.

Child themes made easier

If you have the Jetpack plugin installed and activated and all you want to do is tweak your theme’s CSS a bit, you might want to consider using Jetpack’s stylesheet editor in combination with Firefox Firebug to do the job. This is easier than creating a child theme in a number of ways, chief among them being that that you don’t have to create a new style.css file or worry about how to configure that file. Just pass your cursor over your dashboard’s “Appearance” tab, choose “Edit CSS” from the drop-down menu and boom! You’re making CSS modifications to your theme that won’t be destroyed by upgrades.

Of course, Jetpack’s CSS editor doesn’t generate a true child theme, nor does it doesn’t allow you to add or modify PHP functions, but for somebody just starting out, it’s a great way to address many style issues without getting your hands too dirty.

WYSIWYG editing made easier

I’ve blogged before about how much I dislike the WordPress GUI and I still do, but there’s one toolbar button that provides a little relief: “Distraction Free Writing Mode.” It’s just to the right of the spellchecker button.

By default, the WordPress editing window displays your content in visual (as opposed to text) mode, which is nice, but the window’s dimensions don’t match those of the area where your content will appear on the page. As a result, tables, embedded images and so on can get shoved around to the point of unrecognizability. Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy. But true.

Click the Distraction Free button, however, and you’ll get a full screen (which makes me wonder why they don’t call it “Full-screen,” rather than “Distraction Free” … which should be hyphenated, by the way, but I digress …) with only your content area, properly proportioned and centered below a minimized toolbar that’s visible only when you move your cursor to the top of the window.

Yes, the window ignores your CSS and no, you won’t have immediate access to many useful editing functions, but at least you get a better idea of how your content will look wrapped around images and it doesn’t flow out of view into an unpardonably squat inline frame.

It ain’t Dreamweaver, nosiree, and you still can’t see any part of the page other than the part you’re editing, but it’s a darn sight better than trying to edit content that looks like somebody stuffed it into a garbage bag and kicked it to the curb.

Pushing content to social media made easier

Different social media integrate with blog posts in different ways and they don’t always make it easy. At the time of this writing, for example, LinkedIn has eliminated the option of adding what it called “applications” to profile pages. Formerly, somebody who wanted to automatically publish WordPress blog posts to their LinkedIn feed had only to add the WordPress application to their profile. Now post URLs must be added manually to the LinkedIn feed.

Services like Hootsuite will push posts among your various social media accounts, too, but you first must register with these services and then figure out how they work. Which they don’t always do.

Screw that.

Every WordPress editing window, whether page or post, has a line in the “Publish” section that begins with the word “Publicize.” Click the link at the end of that line and you’re given a list of social media sites. Check off the ones you’d like to target, fill in a few text boxes for each and you’re good to go. If the site you’re looking for isn’t there, and all the big ones already are, the page also allows you to create a custom entry.